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Parents now 'sharing custody' of children after divorce PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Press Trust of India   

MUMBAI: Custody of children is perhaps the most bitter part of the divorce proceedings. But a new emerging trend of couples agreeing to joint custody of children despite their own differences could probably help them separate more amicably.

Joint custody of the children between the parents after divorce has been a favoured approach in the Western countries to handle the issue.

The divorced parents, here too, are now being counselled by advocates to seek joint custody "in the better interest of the child".

Three couples who got divorced by mutual consent at the family court here at different times agreed to their advocates counsel and sought the decree of joint custody recently.

In one of these orders last month, the judge declared that "both shall share joint legal custody of the minor child, which entails all major decisions taken jointly - including decisions of the child's education, religion, medicine, discipline, upbringing and all plans for the future with both the parents considering the best interest of the child".

In the second case, the duo agreed to joint custody of their minor child. The father also undertook to bear all the expenses incurred for the child.

"Sharing parenting time is important, more so for the child rather than the couple," said noted lawyer Mrunalini Deshmukh.

"Most of the couples who come to seek divorce are good people but the problem is that they may not be compatible and hence unable to live with each other. But the child needs to grow in a healthy environment with the involvement of both the parents," she said.

Giving the custody of the child to one parent and making the other just a visitor is not fair to the child, she added. The term "visitor" for the father, itself creates distances and creates gaps in a healthy relationship, she said.

There may be cases where one parent may be abusive or an alcoholic, in such circumstances, awarding the custody to the other parent is justified, says Deshmukh.

But in cases where there are clashes between the couple, they have to keep it aside and care for the child jointly, she advises.

Interestingly, there is no specific law for granting joint custody of the child to the divorced couple. "It is important that our legal system be altered to include this approach for the betterment of the society at large," she said.

"In India, the laws in connection with the child's custody are in the mother's favour. Seeking this alteration is not asking for more rights for the father but for the betterment of the child," Deshmukh added.


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